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Jim Sherwood, original member of the Mothers of Invention, dies at 69

The original madcap woodwind player of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, Jim Sherwood, passed away on Dec. 25 at age 69. Cause of death is not yet determined.

Sherwood, an adept and classically trained multi-instrumentalist, played baritone and tenor saxophone and percussion and contributed vocals to the Mothers of Inventions' landmark first psychedelic records, including 1968's "Cruising With Ruben & the Jets" and their 1966 debut, "Freak Out!"

Search: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

A childhood friend of Zappa's, Sherwood also performed on Zappa's first solo album, 1967's "Lumpy Gravy," and in the 1971 avant-garde film "200 Motels." Sherwood later described his "200 Motels" character as "in love with a vacuum cleaner."

After the Mothers of Invention disbanded in 1969, Sherwood still collaborated with Zappa and his bandmates; the group's epic swan song, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh," hinged largely on his aggressive instrumental theatrics.

Sherwood was called "Motorhead" by his bandmates because of his obsessive love of fixing up cars. As the now-deceased Zappa told Rolling Stone in 1968:

"Euclid James 'Motorhead' Sherwood I've known for 12 years. We were in high school in Lancaster together. He used to play baritone sax in the Omens. He has the ability to perform a dance known as the bug, which resembles an epileptic fit. He's one of those guys you say, 'I know this guy who's really weird and I want to show him to you.' He was our equipment handler for a while, and when we started the atrocities, we started handing him our instruments to see what would happen. He played things more imaginative than the proficient musicians could lay down. It was just him against the machine in his mouth, a saxophone. He is also very proficient at dolls and visual aids."

Sherwood carried the fond nickname -- and the dolls -- up through one of his final musical projects, the Grandmothers, a troupe of musicians who had collaborated with Zappa throughout his career.

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Dec 30, 2011 6:19PM
Dec 30, 2011 7:09AM
Yeah, and no one ever mentioned the great pianist of the Charlie Daniels Band that was the original member of his band,  Pianiist Taz who was killed in his vehicle just a couple months ago. 
Dec 30, 2011 6:44AM

The only significant name off the top of my head is Clarence Clemons, who broke out with the Bruce's E Street Band in the 70's. But yeah, if drugs didn't take some musicians outright, the aftereffects of high living and the stress of the music life took them later: John Entwistle, Rick Danko, John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Maurice Gibb(after Andy o.d.'d) Doug Sahm,  Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett to name a few. Don't expect most of those who came along after them and lived like that to live into their 80's either.

Dec 30, 2011 2:47AM
RIP Jim, still remember seeing you '76.
Dec 30, 2011 12:34AM
RIP, and thanks for the tunes Mr Sherwood..
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